Beijing Olympics Snowboarding

Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States celebrates after winning a gold medal in the women’s snowboardcross finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Wednesday. Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

BEIJING — Lindsey Jacobellis is finally an Olympic gold medalist. Let that sink in for a moment because Jacobellis has been trying for 16 years.

Jacobellis helped make the wild sport of snowboardcross famous. Who could forget her premature celebration as she approached the finish line in the 2006 Turin Games, an ill-timed board grab that sent her tumbling out of the lead? In a way, she became one of the best-known silver medalists of all time.

Now Jacobellis will be remembered as the first American gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics. She reached the top of the podium hours after Mikaela Shiffrin had another stunning early exit on the Alpine ski hill. Jacobellis rode hard to the finish of the snowboardcross final on Wednesday, beating Chloe Trespeuch of France and covering her heart with her hands as she slowed.

Jacobellis was 20 when she made the mistake in Turin. Now 36 and in her fifth Olympics, she became the oldest U.S. woman to win a gold. The 16 years is also the longest gap between medals for any U.S. woman.

She never stopped reaching for a gold medal.

“They can keep talking about it all they want because it really shaped me into the individual that I am,” Jacobellis said. “It kept me hungry and really kept me fighting in this sport.”

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Jacobellis’ performance lit up the Genting Snow Park.

“This feels incredible because the level that all the women are riding at today is so much higher than it was 16 years ago,” Jacobellis said.

Jacobellis said she’d advise young riders to not let mistakes define them. “Especially if you’ve made it to this stage, you’re a winner. And look at what you’ve learned from the experience and take that with you later in life.”

HALFPIPE: Shaun White failed on his signature trick on his first run down the halfpipe, the Double McTwist 1260, and was in 19th place in men’s qualifying. But the defending Olympic champion came back in his second try and nailed the same run to make it through to the medal round.

The 35-year-old stomped every landing and when he reached the bottom, he tore off his goggles and let out a “Yeahhhh.” He qualified behind two-time silver medalist Ayumu Hirano, 2018 bronze medalist Scotty James and Hirano’s Japanese teammate, Ruka Hirano.

“I can’t tell you the relief I felt off that last hit,” White said. “It was just the thrill and excitement to be going to finals.”

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But after the fall in the first of two qualifying rounds, nothing felt certain. In the preliminaries, riders get two chances and their best score counts. The top 12 riders advance. After Round 1, White was in 19th place.

“I was thinking a lot about that, like, how if the next run went terribly, I’d be standing here, talking to everyone over and over about how I’m still happy to be here, but it sucks,” White said. “I’m so thankful I’m not living that right now.”

Though White is no stranger to pressure – he won his third gold medal four years ago with a near-perfect trip on the day’s last run – there’s something different about riding for gold, as opposed to riding simply to get to the gold-medal round.

But he’s been there before, too.

He fell in the first round of qualifying at his first Olympics, in 2006 in Italy. He spent the time in between rounds simply doing free-rides through the Alps and trying to take his mind off the immense task ahead. He made it through and won the gold medal.

• Defending women’s Olympic champion Chloe Kim breezed through qualifying with a score of 87.75. The 21-year-old cranked it up in her second run but fell on her switch backside 720. She raised her hand as if to say, “Oh well” and playfully stuck out her tongue while waiting for her score.

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Mitsuki Ono of Japan was second in qualifying and Cai Xuetong of China was third. American Maddie Mastro finished just outside of the top 12 who advanced to Thursday’s final.

DOPING: Iran’s only male athlete at the Beijing Olympics has tested positive for an anabolic steroid in the first confirmed doping case at the Games.

The International Testing Agency says Alpine skier Hossein Saveh Shemshaki failed a drug test on Monday in Beijing, before competing. He is provisionally suspended and cannot compete at what was to be his third Olympics.

The 36-year-old raced in slalom and giant slalom at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and four years later at Sochi. He carried Iran’s flag at the opening ceremony in Sochi. He can appeal against his provisional ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Beijing.

• Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian superstar who was expected to deliver her nation its third straight Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating, tested positive for a banned heart medication before the Beijing Games, the Russian newspaper RBC reported.

The sample was reportedly obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month in Estonia, a performance that solidified her status as the leader of Russia’s “quad squad” of elite women’s figure skaters headed to Beijing.

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The positive test could cost Russia the gold medal from the team competition and threaten Valieva’s chance to win the individual competition that starts Tuesday. She is the heavy favorite.

The drug detected, trimetazidine, is a metabolic agent that helps prevent angina attacks and treats vertigo, according to the European Union’s medicines agency. It is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it can help endurance and increase blood flow efficiency.

The most famous case of trimetazidine in sports doping involved Chinese star swimmer Sun Yang. The three-time Olympic champion served a three-month ban in 2014. Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva tested positive for trimetazidine at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. She was disqualified from the two-woman bobsled event and served an eight-month ban.

It is unclear whether Valieva applied for a therapeutic use exemption or has a history of heart problems.

Russian athletes are in Beijing competing as the “Russian Olympic Committee” (ROC), after the country was banned because of a massive state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee and Switzerland-based International Testing Agency, which oversees the Olympic drug testing program, have declined to comment on the case. It is complicated because minors have protection within the World Anti-Doping Code from being identified.

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MEN’S HOCKEY: The Russian ice hockey team has started its defense of the Olympic men’s gold medal with a 1-0 win over Switzerland in Beijing.

It wasn’t the convincing start to the tournament the Russians may have hoped for as they were outshot 33-30 by a Swiss team not expected to contend for a medal.

The Russians, playing as the Russian Olympic Committee, had a slice of good fortune for the only goal.

A shot from former Edmonton Oilers forward Anton Slepyshev took a double bounce off Swiss goaltender Reto Berra’s pad and Enzo Corvi’s leg on its way into the goal with 2.7 seconds left of the first period.

Fabrice Herzog could have sent the game to overtime when he hit the frame of the goal late in the third period. Russian goaltender Ivan Fedotov had 33 saves for the shutout on his Olympic debut.

ALPINE SKIING: Petra Vlhova added an Olympic gold medal to her growing list of achievements, winning the women’s slalom at the Beijing Games.

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It was Slovakia’s first Olympic medal in Alpine skiing. Mikaela Shiffrin again failed to finish the race.

Vlhova, who has already clinched the World Cup title in the discipline, was only eighth fastest after the first run down the Ice River course. But she made it up for an unofficial combined time of 1 minute, 44.98 seconds.

Katharina Liensberger of Austria was 0.08 seconds slower than Vlhova over the two legs for second. Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was third, 0.12 behind Vlhova.

SPEEDSKATING: Olympic gold medalist Nils van der Poel accused the Netherlands speedskating program of “corruption” over a report that its officials try to influence the ice makers to set up conditions that benefit Dutch athletes.

Van der Poel made his scathing comments during a news conference Wednesday at the Olympic Village, three days after his victory in the 5,000 meters gave Sweden its first speedskating medal since 1988.

“This isn’t my idea of fair play,” van der Poel said. “The Olympics is higher, stronger, faster. This is corruption. This is trying to alter the field of play in your favor by using unethical and immoral means.”

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Van der Poel said he had read an article on a Dutch website that suggested the world’s strongest team is using a scientist to try to make sure the Ice Ribbon oval is set up to its advantage.

While saying he has confidence in Mark Messer, who oversees the ice, van der Poel said the Dutch program deserves to be punished if the report is true.

“This is the biggest scandal in our sport,” he said. “We have doping cases in our sport every now and then. I do not see how this is any less serious.”

Dutch technical director Maurits Hendriks reportedly called van der Poel’s comments “unworthy of an Olympic champion.”

“Measuring the ice temperature has been going on for 20 years,” Hendriks said in Dutch media. “And anyone who comes to the skating rink more often sees that all countries have contact with the ice master.”

• Hwang Daeheon became the fourth South Korean in six Olympics to win the gold medal in the men’s 1,500-meter short track speedskating when he stuck his skate in front in a tight finish of the 10-man final. Six skaters lined up on the start and the other four in back, and the pack circling the rink looked more like a relay than an individual final.

LUGE: Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt won their third straight Olympic doubles luge gold medal, holding off German teammates Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken by 0.099 seconds. Germany is 3 for 3 in luge gold medals at the Beijing Games and will go for a sweep in the team relay.

FREESTYLE BIG AIR: Birk Ruud of Norway won the gold medal in the Olympics’ first men’s freestyle big air event and then honored his father, who died of cancer last year. After landing at the bottom of Big Air Shougang and unfurling a Norwegian flag, the 21-year-old pulled down his sleeve to reveal a gold bracelet, a gift from his father.

“Papa, you’re with me,” he said, tapping his heart.


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